Suthers announces that Statewide Grand Jury investigation exonerates Timothy Masters in Peggy Hettrick homicide

DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that based on a yearlong investigation into the 1987 homicide of Peggy Hettrick (DOB: 3/1/1949), Timothy Masters is no longer a suspect in the case.

“Pursuant to the mandate from the Governor’s Office, our team undertook a comprehensive review of the entire Hettrick homicide,” Suthers said. “Our team conducted more than 170 interviews and conducted further DNA analysis. Throughout the past year, the Statewide Grand Jury heard evidence and testimony from numerous witnesses. Based on the testimony, the forensic analysis and the crime scene analysis, the overwhelming conclusion is that Timothy Masters was not involved in the murder of Peggy Hettrick.”

“Masters cooperated fully with our investigation, including the Grand Jury proceedings. Given the nature and extent of the Grand Jury investigation, the time has come for law enforcement to officially exonerate Timothy Masters,” Suthers added. “The Hettrick case remains open. We have made significant progress in the investigation. Our team will continue to develop evidence and we will continue to work on this case until the murderer is brought to justice. Too many lives have been affected by the events of that day. Justice requires that we continue to diligently work on the case.”

On February 11, 1987, the body of Peggy Hettrick was discovered in a field within the city limits of Fort Collins. The subsequent Fort Collins Police Department investigation resulted in Masters’ arrest in 1998. A jury convicted Masters of first-degree murder in 1999. As a result, Masters was sentenced to life in prison.

In 2008, Masters’ post-conviction defense counsel released results of DNA evidence recovered from Hettrick’s clothing and personal effects. Analysis revealed that Masters’ DNA profile was not present on the evidence. Based on this information, the assigned special prosecution team from the District Attorney’s Office for the 17th Judicial District moved to have Masters’ conviction vacated. Following this decision, the District Attorney for the 8th Judicial District decided that Masters would not be retried for the Hettrick homicide, which led to Masters’ release from prison. Following his release, then-Gov. Bill Ritter issued an executive order directing that, “the Colorado Attorney General shall conduct a comprehensive investigation of any suspects revealed through the new DNA evidence or otherwise in the Hettrick murder case.”

The Forensic Laboratory of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Denver Lab and Independent Forensic Services provided significant assistance to the Office of the Attorney General. Suthers said he and his office appreciate the efforts of the investigators and witnesses who have advanced the investigation.

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